Office Printer Media – Often Overlooked but Still Very Important

Many of us print less today than we did five-ten years ago but despite the decline in office print volumes, print media is still very important. It is important because it does affect print quality and is a key part of the office printer supplies annuity and is also so very important to those in the media supply chain.

Who is really interested in the office print media?  Certainly all printer manufacturers must be interested in print media whether they are participating in the media annuity stream or not. Because manufacturers want to optimize image quality of their laser/LED and inkjet printers which involves a matching of toner and ink with the various media offered by the printer manufacturers.  Image quality is important for both mono and color devices where print quality requirements are very dependent but more so for color devices and very dependent on the print application.  Some printer manufacturers such as HP, Xerox, Epson, and Canon offer their own brand of media and benefit from the media revenue stream along with their channel partners including the office supplies companies (i.e. Staples, Office Depot).

Media manufacturers also have a strong interest in office print media trends and forecasts, ideally by type of media so they can plan for production volumes.

Although there are mixed views regarding future office print volumes, it is reasonable to assume the office print volumes will decline in the future due to declining office printer shipments and printer installed base. Corporate pressures and MPS initiatives are pressuring office workers to print less, and electronic document and workflow technologies offering office workers alternatives to printing documents resulting in increased productivity, and reduced overall costs for the enterprise.  At the same time, content available to office workers is increasing exponentially which has convinced at least some analysts to believe that print volumes are not declining as much as some of us think.

The Photizo 2016 Media Forecast offers some key insight into the office media market including a forecast for the period from 2014 to 2020.  The forecast is segments by media type (see Figure 1).

Media TypeLaserInkjetGeneral Description
CommodityYesYes24 lbs. or less; 92 brightness or less; white
Value-AddYesYes> 24 lbs.; > 92 brightness; can be colored
CoatedYesYesCoated to enhance print quality
PhotoYesNormalized to 8.5" by 11" sheets
SpecialtyYesTransfer, etc.
Figure 1

It should be noted that there is commodity, value-add, and coated media more suited for laser or inkjet printers.

As stated earlier, the printer installed base is one very key factor effecting print volumes and it is expected to continue to decline (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 3 below is a forecast segmented by media type.   Commodity grade media makes up a large majority of media used, value-added the next highest volume driven primarily by the growth of color laser in the office and by business inkjet printers, with photo paper and specialty papers making up the balance.

Figure 3

Because non-commodity media average sales prices are much higher, the revenue contribution from them is a bit more significant than when looking at sheet volumes (see Figure 4).

Figure 4


So, how significant is the $32B worldwide media revenue when looking at total printer revenue and cartridge revenue?  The media revenue accounts for more revenue than printer hardware and 22% of overall printer revenue including hardware, cartridges, and media.  That is significant, very significant. Office print media revenues are actually greater than the office printer hardware revenue!

Photizo Group offers an in depth, pivot table based media forecast segmented by four regions including North America, Latin America, EMEA, and Asia/Pacific and also offers a North America Media Forecast Perspective which is a summary (Word doc) of the detailed forecast but does not include other regions or a detailed pivot table based excel spreadsheet.

For more information on these offerings, please contact Ron Iversen, Vice President – Market Intelligence at or (805) 630-4096.

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